This blog, as you know, is about what I've been reading lately. As someone who despite having a small but functional local library less than a block away gives in a couple times a week to my near-pathological urge to buy books, a chronicle of my reading is also a chronicle of my buying--and of the physical books themselves. Today Stacey and I rearranged the books in our bookcases so that we would no longer have a hundred or so books resting, sideways and disorganized, atop all of our properly shelved books. It took a long time, but it was worth it, the temporarily ordered shelves satisfying the lingering remnants of the bookseller in me.
Which is all a roundabout way of getting to the fact that, right after I finished my post about Deborah Blum's Ghost Hunters the other night, I realized that I should mention that it was, physically, a near-perfect book. The Penguin Press marketing department did its work, getting a great title and subtitle (Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life after Death), and the design department created a flawless cover, making use of striking spirit photography and a great typeface for the title. The interior design was excellent as well, clear and readable. There's not much more you could ask for in a mid-level trade book; congratulations are in order.
And while I'm praising Penguin, I should say that I love the recent redesign of the Penguin classics. I'm not talking about the Deluxe Editions, which are wonderful but have gotten plenty of press, but of the regular old Classics line. The covers have been simplified, with an image on the top half and black on the bottom, and both the design and the image choices have been spot-on. Now, they're still printed on some of the worst paper in the world, so they feel ancient about forty minutes after you get them home. but baby steps are still progress . . .